Tour de Lab September 1st

Small town traffic calming signage

Posted by on August 22nd, 2011 at 11:49 pm

Sign as you enter Joseph, OR.
(Photo © J. Maus)

I’m out for a few days of camping with the family at Wallowa Lake State Park and thought I’d share this great road sign. The sign is on Main Street in Joseph, Oregon, the little town about six miles north of Wallowa Lake.

Big highways that run through small towns is a common situation throughout Oregon. Many towns have adopted couplets (two, one-way streets), but thankfully Joseph has opted for the traditional, two-way set-up. To try and keep traffic from zooming through, the City of Joseph has created a dense downtown strip, complete with lots of public art and quaint storefronts — all of which are better seen at reasonable speeds.

When I saw the sign, it reminded me of how I feel about my neighborhood in Portland. I think I’ll make something similar when I get home. Maybe after it’s up, all people who use my neighborhood street as a cut-through to avoid traffic on I-5 would think twice before zooming by.

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22 Comments
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    Andrew Seger August 23, 2011 at 12:27 am

    Note that the main street in Joseph is an ODOT owned road, as it is in most cities in Oregon. I wish there was a bipartisan big town/small town program called “Main Streets” that had its own ODOT department devoted to making main streets in places like Portland, Sisters, Ashland, Lincoln City and every other town in Oregon into places where people want to live, work, and play.

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    Dude August 23, 2011 at 9:16 am

    How come you don’t like couplets? Increased speeds? They seem to be an ODOT favorite. Joseph is one of my favorites.

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    michael bogoger August 23, 2011 at 10:11 am

    I rode through Joseph with Cycle Oregon a few years ago – never met a better reception from strangers in my life!

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    Ryno Dan August 23, 2011 at 10:21 am

    I have cut-thru problems in my neighborhood too. I wish it could be made illegal to cut-thru neighborhood side streets. Freakin gas-powered cheaters. Better yet, I wish we could just block off strategic side streets to eliminate thru traffic (except for emergency vehicles). The neighborhood car users would get used to going around a block.

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    Spiffy August 23, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    traffic doesn’t care about signs telling them to slow down…

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    jeremy August 23, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    I love the sentiment in Joseph, however, it is one of my pet peeves that they spelled the word “through” as “thru”. As an English teacher I see text speech creeping in all over the place…we don’t need it on giant signs too. When you make your sign, leave enough room to spell the words correctly. Thanks

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      Joe C August 24, 2011 at 10:16 am

      Not sure “thru” counts as text speech, given that a) it’s been in use for much longer than cell phones have been around and b) cell service is pretty spotty in Joseph, OR anyway. =)

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      are August 24, 2011 at 10:55 am

      i think it is completely appropriate to use shortened spellings on signage. and actually, anywhere that money or ink or paint or electricity might be saved by dropping a few letters.

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      middle of the road guy August 24, 2011 at 4:39 pm

      Thanx!

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    mabsf August 23, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    20 mph on neighborhood streets with strict enforcement by the inhabitants NOW!

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    Joseph E August 23, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Joseph, OR (good name!) has done more than just the sign. They have added sidewalk bulb-outs, mid-block crosswalks, and diagnoal parking on both sides, to calm traffic on Main Street and make walking more pleasant. You can see the results on Google Maps: http://g.co/maps/quys

    Unfortunately, the street width thru town is still too wide, even with the parking and bulb-outs. The roadway is 30 feet, minimum, not including the parking. To get drivers to really slow down, the roadway needs to be narrowed further, to 18 or 20 feet, and the double-yellow line should be removed. This could be done cheaply by adding 5 to 6 foot bike lanes on either side, which would make the road appear to be 18 or 20 feet wide.

    Later, the bike lanes could be turned into cycletracks or the sidewalks could be widened, with the parking moved further into the road, to make the roadway physically narrower.

    These changes should get traffic down to 20 to 25 mph.

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    Grandpa August 23, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    I love Joseph. I was there this weekend with my Pop, from California and the entire main street was blocked off for a Harley Davidson Motorcycle rally. If you want to kill the charm of that remarkable city line the streets with unmuffled motorcycles, fill the sidewalks with people dressed as pirates and set up refrigerator size speakers in the middle of down town to blare George Thurogood.

    To their credit, the Harley riders did not speed through town.

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      dan August 24, 2011 at 9:37 am

      Not a motorcyclist myself, but each to their own. I’m sure that some people have felt that a visit to their favorite small Oregon town was ruined by Cycle Oregon coming through when they were there.

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        Lady Godfrey February 1, 2015 at 1:34 pm

        Cycle Oregon is bicycles. It’s a large organized ride that makes donations to schools (and maybe community groups) that help accommodate the cyclists’ stay. The two communities I’ve lived in that hosted them were happy with the event.

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    Jocelyn August 24, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Experiencing the same speeding cut-thru issues on my street in Sellwood too – commercial vehicles, teens gone wild, business commuters – you name it. A kid yelled profanities at me the other day because I waived at him to slow down. He yelled that he was only going 40mph *$%!.

    Over half of our block is made up of families with kids under 10. The street is just barely two lanes.

    Parked cars have been hit. Pets have been killed. Neon “kids playing” signs have been run over. Serious accidents are just waiting to happen.

    Nothing is working to slow drivers down. Posting signs – “Drive Slow” from PBOT, waving our arms, screaming, letters and calls to the City. Apparently the program to publicly and/or privately fund speed bumps is no longer available.

    We love where we live but the speeding traffic situation is pathetic.

    Dear City of Joseph, I love your sign. Is it working?

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      Ted Buehler August 25, 2011 at 5:48 pm

      Jocelyn —

      Have you and your neighbors called “823-SAFE” and complained about excessive speeds? That’s a good start. Or email safe@portlandoregon.gov

      Then, after you get a few responses, push the matter further.
      * Bring it up to your neighborhood association, ask them to ask the city to take action.
      * Call 911 whenever anyone is 10 mph+ over the speed limit — that’s fast enough to kill.
      * Get a radar gun and start clocking traffic. Take pics of the speeds on the gun with your camera and email them to safe@portlandoregon.gov (Borrow a radar gun from the BTA, from me, or buy one (look on Amazon, you want a Bushnell brand at the $79 price).
      * Put those neon “drive slow” signs back up.
      * Organize an informal adult street basketball league. Weeknights from 5:15 to 5:45.

      And

      * Have someone in your neighborhood enroll in the Portland Traffic and Transportation Class this fall to learn your way around PBOT.

      The squeaky wheel gets the grease,
      Ted Buehler

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      lisa smilie August 26, 2011 at 4:37 pm

      Thanks Ted for these suggestions. I have the same problem with speeders that Jocelyn does. I have been in contact with PBOT, but will try some of your ideas.

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      lisa smilie August 26, 2011 at 4:42 pm

      Hi Jocelyn, I live on 14th in West Moreland and have speeders too. I have been able to get the City to put up speed limit signs of 15MPH, since our street is 18 feet wide. Yours may qualify too. I’d be happy to send you the info if you like. But sadly, without enforcement signs hasn’t helped much.

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    Paulie August 24, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Jonathon, I hope you get the chance to take the gondola ride up Mt. Howard. The view up there will knock your socks off!

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    John August 24, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Joseph and Wallowa Lake is a nice place. Was there myself last month when there was still snow up at the top of Mt. Howard (terminal of the tram ride).
    Embers Brewhaus in Joseph has a great selection of beer on tap and good food. I recommend stopping there. And the Terminal Gravity brewpub in Enterprise is also worth the sidetrip (or a planned stop on your way home)

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    Roger Averbeck August 24, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Jonathan – Hope you are enjoying your vacation!

    Prior to moving to Portland, I lived, worked and biked in Wallowa County, OR for twenty years. A few comments to respond to both the article and comments posted above. Creating a couplet in downtown Joseph was never discussed or proposed by ODOT, the City of Joseph. or any local residents so “‘opting” for the existing two set up is a bit of a stretch.

    What has been proposed and discussed by the locals is designation of a parallel street as the N-S bike route through town. The main street in the business district could use some sharrows (along with an education campaign to explain sharrows in this tourist and ranch town. Lots more RV’s and pickup trucks than bikes there on any given day. Except in winter it’s pickups and SUV’s – Joseph is at 4200 ft in a valley adjacent to 9000 ft plus mountains – it really snows there, so snow removal needs to included in roadway designs.

    To Joseph E above – striped bike lanes are not used on streets with diagonal parking – sharrows are appropriate.

    During tourist season (June – October), the diagonal parking “backing out” activity contributes to traffic calming, not to mention plenty of local sheriff’s deputies with time on their hands, plus lots of pedestrians / tourists and visitors, etc.

    Two other potential projects of importance to local cyclists in Wallowa County:

    1. Paving and striping an improved shoulder / bike lane between Joseph and Wallowa Lake.

    2. Repaving and widening Hurricane Road (county jurisdiction) between Joseph and Enterprise, OR, approx. 6 miles away. This is the lower traffic volume alternative to State Hwy 82, which has narrow shoulders and comparatively high traffic speeds and volumes.

    Jonathan: Get in touch with Sara Miller at NE OR Economic Development offices for more info on coordinated efforts to improve cycling in that part of the state:

    saramiller@neoedd.org or 541-426-3598

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